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Harrison County, Indiana facts for kids

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Harrison County
Harrison County courthouse in Corydon, built in 1928
Harrison County courthouse in Corydon, built in 1928
Map of Indiana highlighting Harrison County
Location within the U.S. state of Indiana
Map of the United States highlighting Indiana
Indiana's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Indiana
Founded December 1, 1808
Named for William Henry Harrison
Seat Corydon
Largest city Corydon
 • Total 486.52 sq mi (1,260.1 km2)
 • Land 484.52 sq mi (1,254.9 km2)
 • Water 2.00 sq mi (5.2 km2)  0.41%%
 • Total 39,364
 • Density 81.2/sq mi (31.4/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 9th
  • Indiana county number 31
  • Fourth oldest county in Indiana

Harrison County is located in the far southern part of the U.S. state of Indiana along the Ohio River. The county was officially established in 1808. As of the 2010 census, the county's population was 39,364, an increase of 6.6% from 2000. The county seat is Corydon, the former capital of Indiana.

Harrison County is part of the Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The county has a diverse economy with no sector employing more than 13% of the local workforce. Horseshoe Southern Indiana is the largest employer, followed by Tyson Foods and the Harrison County Hospital. Tourism also plays a significant role in the economy and is centered on the county's many historic sites. County government is divided among several bodies including the boards of the county's three school districts, three elected commissioners who exercise legislative and executive powers, an elected county council that controls the county budget, a circuit and superior court, and township trustees who oversee government function in the county's 12 townships. The county has 10 incorporated towns with a total population of over 5,000, as well as many small unincorporated towns. One Interstate highway and one U. S. Route run through the county, as do eight Indiana State Roads and two railroad lines.

Migratory groups of Native Americans inhabited the area for thousands of years, but the first permanent settlements in what would become Harrison County were created by American settlers in the years after the American Revolutionary War. The population grew rapidly during first decade of the 19th century. Corydon was officially platted in 1808 and became the capital of the Indiana Territory in 1813. Many of the state's early important historic events occurred in the county, including the writing of Indiana's first constitution. Corydon was the state capital until 1825, but in the years afterward remained an important hub for southern Indiana. In 1859 there was a major meteorite strike. In 1863 the Battle of Corydon was fought, the only battle of the American Civil War to occur in Indiana.


See also: History of Indiana
Southern edge of Swan's Landing
Swan's Landing Site

Humans first entered what would become Indiana near the end of the last ice age. The region around Harrison County was of particular value to the early humans because of the abundance of flint. There is evidence of flint mining in local caves as early as 2000 BCE; the stone was used to produce crude tools. Passing migratory tribes frequented the area which was influenced by succeeding groups of peoples including the Hopewells and Mississippians. One flint-working and camping location is known as the Swan's Landing Archeological Site; it is among the most important Early Archaic archaeological sites anywhere in eastern North America. Permanent human settlements in the county began with the arrival of American settlers in the last decade of the 18th century.

The area became part of the United States following its conquest during the American Revolutionary War. Veterans of the revolution received land grants in the eastern part of the county as part of Clark's Grant. Daniel Boone and his brother Squire Boone were early explorers of the county, entering from Kentucky in the 1780s. Harvey Heth, Spier Spencer, and Edward Smith were among the first to settle in the county beginning in the 1790s. Smith built the first home in what later became the county seat of Corydon.

Harrison County was originally part of Knox County and Clark County but was separated in 1808. It was the first Indiana county formed by the Indiana territorial legislature and not the Governor. The county originally contained land that is now parts of Crawford, Floyd, Washington, Jackson, Clark, Lawrence, Perry, Scott and Orange Counties. The county was named for William Henry Harrison, the first governor of Indiana Territory, and later a General in War of 1812, hero of Tippecanoe, and the 9th U.S. President. Harrison was the largest land holder in the county at the time and had a small estate at Harrison Spring.

Squire Boone settled permanently in what is now Boone Township in 1806. He died in 1815 and is buried in a cave near his home, Squire Boone Caverns. James, Isaiah, and Daniel (son of Squire) Boone settled in Heth Township during the first decade of the 1800s. The county's first church was built by Boone east of present-day Laconia. The church, which has been reconstructed, is known as Old Goshen. Jacob Kintner settled near Corydon in about 1810. He was one of the wealthiest settlers and amassed a 700-acre (2.8 km2) tract of land around Corydon, built a large home, and maintained an inn. Paul and Susanna Mitchem became Quakers and immigrated to Harrison County from North Carolina in 1814, bringing with them 107 slaves they freed after arriving. Although some of the former slaves left, the group became one of the largest communities of free blacks in the state.

The first road was built in Harrison County in 1809 connecting Corydon with Mauckport on the Ohio River. A tow-and-ferry line was operated there by the Mauck family bringing settlers into the county from Kentucky. This road and ferry greatly expanded the county's economic viability and ease of access to the outside world, leading to a rapid settlement of the area. The county's population more than doubled in the following decade.

Squire Boone Caverns burial cave 1
Original burial site marker of Squire Boone

Dennis Pennington, who lived near Lanesville, became one of the county's early leading citizens and speaker of the territory's legislature. Corydon began competing with other southern Indiana settlements to become the new capital of the territory after its reorganization in 1809. Hostilities broke out in 1811 with the Native American tribes on the frontier, and the territorial capital was moved to Corydon on May 1, 1813, after Pennington suggested it would be safer than Vincennes. For the next twelve years, Corydon was the political center of the territory and subsequent state. A state constitution was drafted in Corydon during June 1816 and after statehood the town served as the state capital until 1825.

The first division of the county occurred in 1814 when the northern portion of the county was separated to become Washington County. The county was again divided in 1818 with the western part of the county being separated to become Crawford County. A third division occurred in 1819 when Floyd County was created out of the eastern part of the county. Harrison County's eastern border has had minor adjustments through land transactions with Floyd County; the last change occurred in 1968.

The northern part of the county is known as the barrens, named by the early settlers for the lack timber there. For the first decades of settlement, settlers refused to purchase the land in the barrens because it was considered too far from the timber needed to build homes, fires, fences, and other necessities. The barrens were swept by annual wildfires that prevented the growth of trees. The largest barren ran from the northern edge of Corydon northward to Palmyra, and from the Floyd Knobs in the east, westward to the Blue River. The Central Barren covered most of the upper middle part of the county. As settlement expanded and farming grew in the early 19th century, settlers began to discover that the barrens were among the most fertile farmlands in the state, and they quickly filled up with landholders. As settlement increased, the wildfires were stopped and by the start of the 20th century the uninhabited parts of the barrens had become forested and have remained so until modern times.

A large meteorite fell near Buena Vista on March 28, 1859, causing some panic in the area. The site of the impact and a part of the meteorite have been preserved.

Corydon train wreck1902
A train wreck at the Corydon Junction's southern trestle, January 19, 1902

In 1860 the first Harrison County fair was held in Corydon. The county fair has been an annual event since then and is the longest continuously running fair in the state. The county fairgrounds were built in the southwest corner of Corydon where the home of Edward Smith formerly stood. The fair's original grandstand burned in 1960 and the county purchased a new grandstand from the minor league baseball team at Parkway Field in Louisville, Kentucky.

The only Civil War battle fought in Indiana occurred in Harrison County on July 9, 1863, between the Harrison County Legion and Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan of the Confederate Army during Morgan's Raid. Morgan crossed the Ohio River into Harrison County on the morning of July 9. His crossing was contested by the Legion with artillery on the Indiana shore and an armed river boat. After Morgan opened fire with his own batteries from the opposite shore the legion quickly retreated towards Corydon. The citizens of Mauckport fled the town with most of their valuables. Morgan landed on the east side of Mauckport with two thousand cavalry and marched north burning homes, farms, and mills. The county militia made a stand to block his advance on the county seat and the resulting conflict is known as the Battle of Corydon. The battle was won by the Confederates and the town of Corydon was then sacked and stores were looted and ransomed. The battle left 4 dead, 12 wounded, and 355 captured. After the battle Morgan continued into northern Harrison County where he looted New Salisbury area with the main body of troops. Crandall and Palmyra were robbed and sacked by detachments. His forces left the county on July 10; they were eventually defeated and captured by Union Army.

The Harrison County memorial to the county's war casualties

The railroad reached Harrison County in 1869. A line was completed across the northern half of county in 1874 running from Floyd County connecting Crandall and then continuing west into Crawford County. A southward extension connecting Corydon to Crandall was completed in 1882. A train wreck killed three in 1902. The southern extension connecting Corydon was purchased by the Corydon Scenic Railroad Company in 1989 and operated as a tourist attraction until 2003 when it was closed because of financial difficulties, ending passenger service in the county.

The first county courthouse was a small log building. When Corydon became the territory capital in 1813, county and territorial officials shared the building. By 1816 a stone building had been constructed, and it served as both Harrison County Courthouse and the state capital building until the capital was moved. As more space was needed, other buildings were constructed to supplement the courthouse. In the 1920s, the latest of these office buildings was razed to make way for a new courthouse; the old building was acquired by the State of Indiana and preserved as the first state capitol building. The new courthouse was built from 1927 to 1928 at a cost of about $250,000. The building was designed by Fowler and Karges of Evansville and was constructed by J. Fred Beggs and Company of Scottsburg.

The Harrison-Crawford State Forest was started in 1932 when the State of Indiana purchased land in western Harrison County. The 26,000-acre (110 km2) park is the largest state forest in Indiana and surrounds the O'Bannon Woods State Park and Wyandotte Caves, located in eastern Crawford County.

Walsh Bridge 3
The Matthew E Welsh Bridge

The Matthew E. Welsh Bridge was completed in 1966 in Mauckport. It connected Harrison County with neighboring Meade County. This is the only bridge over the Ohio River between Tell City and New Albany. In 1969 Dr. Samuel P. Hays donated the 311-acre (1.26 km2) Hayswood Nature Reserve to the county. It was developed in 1973 by the Harrison County Park Board by adding public facilities to the western part of the preserve. It is the second largest nature reserve in the county.

Caesars Indiana opened a casino river boat, hotel complex, and golf course in 1998, boosting the county's tourism industry. The casino complex was purchased and became Horseshoe Southern Indiana on July 11, 2008.


Map of Harrison County, Indiana
Map of Harrison County, showing townships, settlements, and major highways

Harrison County is located in the far southern part of Indiana, about halfway between the state's east and west borders. The Ohio River defines the county's southern border; across the river lies the state of Kentucky and the city of Louisville. The Blue River runs along the county's western border. Six counties are adjacent to Harrison County. Three are in Indiana: Washington County to the north, Floyd County to the east, and Crawford County to the west. The other three are in Kentucky: Jefferson County and Hardin County are to the southeast and Meade County is to the south.

According to the 2010 census, the county has a total area of 486.52 square miles (1,260.1 km2), of which 484.52 square miles (1,254.9 km2) (or 99.59%) is land and 2.00 square miles (5.2 km2) (or 0.41%) is water.

Harrison Spring is located west of Corydon; it is 60 feet (18 m) in diameter and is over 40 feet (12 m) deep, making it the largest and deepest spring in Indiana. It rises from a solid rock in a level spot of land, and it outputs enough water to have turned flour mills in the past. Is the largest spring by volume in Indiana producing over 3 million gallons of water daily. The spring derives its name from William Henry Harrison who once owned the land surrounding it.

Harrison County's surface is covered by many hills and valleys. The Knobstone Escarpment begins in the southeastern part of the county, rising sharply at the Ohio River, and following a course roughly along the eastern edge of the county. The "knobs" are the most significant series of hills in Indiana, with the highest knobs near the Ohio River towering 610 feet (190 m) over the surrounding valley. This is the greatest local relief difference in the state. The Ohio River borders the entire southeastern, southern, and southwestern part of the county. Blue River forms the western border with Indian Creek and Buck Creek as the primary internal drainage systems.

The western part of the county is preserved as the Harrison-Crawford State Forest and the O'Bannon Woods State Park. The county has extensive cave systems including Squire Boone Caverns, the Binkley Cave System (Indiana Caverns) and smaller, highly decorated caves such as Jewel Box and Devil's Graveyard caves.

Towns and communities

Corydon, with a 2000 population of 2,715, is the largest town in the county, the county seat, and center of economic activity. Palmyra, located on the northern edge of the county, is the second largest town and had a 2000 population of 644. Lanesville is the third largest town with a 2000 population of 615. Milltown had a 2000 population of 932; the town sits on the western border of the county and a majority of its population lives in Crawford County. The county's other incorporated towns, Crandall, Elizabeth, Laconia, Mauckport, New Middletown, and New Amsterdam all have populations under 150.

There are several unincorporated and formerly-incorporated communities. These include Bradford, Byrneville, Central, Depauw, New Salisbury, Ramsey, Rosewood, Sennville and White Cloud.

The county is subdivided into 12 townships: Blue River, Boone, Franklin, Harrison, Heth, Jackson, Morgan, Posey, Spencer, Taylor, Washington, and Webster.

Town Township Population Founded
Corydon Harrison 2,715 1808
Crandall Jackson 131 1872
Elizabeth Posey 137 1812
Laconia Boone 29 1837
Lanesville Franklin 614 1821
Mauckport Heth 83 1827
Milltown Blue River 1827
New Amsterdam Washington 27 1815
New Middletown Webster 77
Palmyra Morgan 930 1810

Climate and weather

Weather chart for Corydon, Indiana
temperatures in °F
precipitation totals in inches
source: The Weather Channel

Harrison County is in the humid subtropical climate region of the United States along with most of Southern Indiana. Its Köppen climate classification is Dfa, meaning that it is cold, has no dry season, and has a hot summer. However, it is close to the southern edge of this region. In recent years, average temperatures in Corydon have ranged from a low of 21 °F (−6 °C) in January to a high of 88 °F (31 °C) in July, although a record low of −31 °F (−35 °C) was recorded in January 1977 and a record high of 104 °F (40 °C) was recorded in July 1983. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 3.13 inches (80 mm) in October to 5.06 inches (129 mm) in May.


Harrison County is bisected by the major east–west Interstate 64. The highway has entrances and exits at Corydon and Lanesville. U.S. Route 150 crosses the northern part of the county following the route of the Buffalo Trace.

The north–south State Road 135 and east–west State Road 62 are roughly perpendicular and cross each other at Corydon near the center of the county. State Road 64 is an east–west route through the north central part of the county, crossing State Road 135 in New Salisbury. State Road 111 connects Elizabeth with New Albany in neighboring Floyd County; the Horseshoe Riverboat Casino is located on the route. State Road 337 crosses the county from the northwest to the southeast, passing through Corydon in the center of the county.

There are two very short Indiana State Roads in the county. State Road 211 runs for about 2 miles (3.2 km) east of Elizabeth in the southeast part of county, connecting State Roads 11 and 111. State Road 462 connects the Harrison-Crawford State Forest with State Road 62 in the southwest part of the county, running for about 3 miles (4.8 km).

Two railroads operate in the county. Lucas Oil Rail Line is a 7-mile (11 km) shortline railroad beginning in downtown Corydon, moving northward through the industrial park where Lucas Oil's bottling facilities are located, and thence northward to where it intersects with an east–west Norfolk Southern Railway line near New Salisbury. The Norfolk Southern line runs across the entire state and passes through the northern part of the county, through the towns of Crandall, Ramsey, and Depauw. It has a small depot in Ramsey.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 3,595
1820 7,875 119.1%
1830 10,273 30.5%
1840 12,459 21.3%
1850 15,286 22.7%
1860 18,521 21.2%
1870 19,913 7.5%
1880 21,326 7.1%
1890 20,786 −2.5%
1900 21,702 4.4%
1910 20,232 −6.8%
1920 18,656 −7.8%
1930 17,254 −7.5%
1940 17,106 −0.9%
1950 17,858 4.4%
1960 19,207 7.6%
1970 20,423 6.3%
1980 27,276 33.6%
1990 29,890 9.6%
2000 34,325 14.8%
2010 39,364 14.7%
Est. 2015 39,578 0.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 39,364 people, 15,192 households, and 11,031 families residing in the county. The population density was 81.2 inhabitants per square mile (31.4/km2). There were 16,534 housing units at an average density of 34.1 per square mile (13.2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 97.4% white, 0.5% black or African American, 0.4% Asian, 0.2% American Indian, 0.5% from other races, and 1.0% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.5% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 31.1% were German, 16.5% were American, 12.8% were Irish, and 12.8% were English.

Of the 15,192 households, 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.5% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 27.4% were non-families, and 22.8% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 2.99. The median age was 40.2 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $47,697 and the median income for a family was $59,316. Males had a median income of $40,884 versus $31,808 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,539. About 7.8% of families and 10.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.7% of those under age 18 and 5.1% of those age 65 or over.

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